Terrence Higgins Trust reaches out-of-court agreement with former chief executive

In July, Rosemary Gillespie was found to have been unfairly dismissed by the charity for making safeguarding disclosures about the alleged inappropriate behaviour of a trustee

Rosemary Gillespie
Rosemary Gillespie

The HIV/Aids charity the Terrence Higgins Trust has reached an out-of-court settlement with its former chief executive.

In July, an employment tribunal ruled that the charity had unfairly dismissed Rosemary Gillespie because she tried to blow the whistle about the inappropriate behaviour of a trustee and other issues at the charity.

The tribunal found that she had been dismissed by the trustees principally because she made disclosures about Paul Jenkins, the charity’s former deputy chair. Gillepsie had claimed during the tribunal that Jenkins got drunk and tried to kiss and place his "hand on the crotch" of a senior staff member after a fundraising auction in aid of the charity. Gillespie had said his alleged actions raised safeguarding concerns.

She had also raised concerns about the cost and length of time taken for an investigation into allegations of misconduct against two senior managers after they were suspended.

A hearing to decide how much compensation Gillespie should receive from the charity was due to take place last week but did not go ahead.

In a statement, a THT spokeswoman said: "The dispute between Terrence Higgins Trust and Dr Rosemary Gillespie has been resolved by mutual agreement."

Asked how much compensation the charity had agreed to pay and how much the case would cost the charity in legal fees, the spokeswoman said she was unable to comment further to the statement provided.

But she said the charity held an insurance policy that covered its legal costs for employment-related matters.

Asked whether the THT intended to inform its supporters about the outcome of the case, she said the charity would explain to any supporters who contacted it directly that the case had been resolved by mutual agreement and that it could not comment further on it.

"It is important to us that we have an open dialogue with our supporters and we regularly have discussions with them regarding overall financial management and governance of the organisation," she said.

Gillespie declined to comment.

Matthew Wort, a partner at the law firm Anthony Collins, said it was difficult to speculate on how much Gillespie could be in line to receive from the charity.

"While compensation in standard unfair dismissal claims is subject to a cap of the lower of one year’s salary or £78,698, in whistleblowing cases compensation is uncapped," he said.

"As a result the settlement could well exceed the cap depending on Dr Gillespie’s future loss of earnings."  

Jenkins stood down from the charity’s board for personal reasons shortly before the judgment in the Gillespie case was published. Robert Glick, the charity’s former chair, said soon after the judgment came out that he would also be standing down.

The charity announced today that Jonathan McShane, a Labour councillor in the London borough of Hackney, had been appointed as its new chair.

McShane is cabinet member for health, social care and devolution at the council and represents the Local Government Association on public health issues.

The charity, which held its annual general meeting last night, has also appointed to its board the HIV clinician Dr Laura Waters and the HIV and sexual health consultant Dr Jake Bayley. It has reappointed Ant Babajee, who has been on the board since 2013, for a further term.

Ian Green, former head of YMCA England, joined the THT as Gillespie’s successor in March.

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